10 Essential SaaS Startup Marketing Strategies For 2022
According to Exploding Topics, the SaaS industry has grown about five times in the last six years. In the United States alone, there are now around 16,000 SaaS companies in existence.
What’s amazing is that more and more SaaS startups are entering the market as we speak.
Perhaps you’re one of the brave ones who dare enter the increasingly competitive SaaS market. It can be challenging to stand out among the new startups entering this playing field.
But if you manage to make it, it can be very rewarding.
Now there are a lot of factors that contribute to the success of a SaaS startup. Some of these are beyond your control. But some can be influenced with the right strategy.
One of the make-or-break factors for the success of any SaaS company is its marketing efforts.
And as a new SaaS startup, you have to enter the market with a bang. Today, let’s talk about some things and strategies you can do to market your SaaS startup the right way.
Strategy #1: Know Who You Are Selling To
For your marketing efforts to hit the mark, you should at least know what the “mark” is.
You should know what kind of people you are selling your SaaS product to. You should know their needs, preferences, and hobbies. Know what they’re interested in.
Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and think about how you would feel if you were them.
Find out what devices they regularly use. Know what websites they visit. Figure out what kind of content they are recently into.
That’s how you know what kind of marketing efforts would grab and maintain their attention.
There are three levels you need to identify:
- Target market
- Target audience
- Target buyer persona
Yes, these three are different from each other. Let’s talk about these levels one by one.
You and your marketing team need to be on the same page at least with your target market. This is the general group of people that can benefit from your SaaS solution.
First of all, you need to clarify whether your SaaS product is a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) solution.
B2C SaaS solutions generally target the everyday consumer. After all, B2C products are intended for personal use.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2B SaaS company, you need to be more specific when it comes to your target market.
Your SaaS product might serve a particular industry. That means you would only target businesses within that industry.
For example, let’s say you’re in the SaaS marketing automation niche. Your SaaS product should target businesses that want to improve and streamline their marketing processes.
Knowing your target market is a good thing, but you also need to narrow it down. SaaS businesses have a wide-ranging customer base. You can’t just lump them all together and call them “target audience.”
You see, not everyone in your target market has the same preferences and habits. Not everyone uses social media. Not everyone likes reading blogs.
There is still a considerable difference when it comes to the marketing strategy that would work on them.
That’s why you need to narrow them down into target audiences.
Your target audience is the particular group of people you are directing your marketing efforts at. You can identify them by segmenting your target market based on demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are the various personal details of your audience. Some examples are age, sex, income, education level, and more. Meanwhile, psychographics refers to the lifestyle, personality traits, and values of your target audience.
Target Buyer Persona
Once you have identified who you are talking to in terms of demographics and psychographics, it is time to identify their individual needs. This is done through what’s called a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional person who represents a specific group within your target audience. They embody the wants and needs of people belonging to that group.
Think of the target market as the NBA. The target audience is one of the teams. And the buyer persona is the coach or one of the players.
Let’s have an example closer to home. Let’s say you have a B2B SaaS solution for AI-driven marketing automation.
Your target market would be businesses that are looking to improve their marketing processes. Your target audience would be companies that value automation and AI. And one of your target buyer personas would be the CTO of that company.
Buyer personas can range from top to bottom of a company hierarchy. It could be the CEO, CTO, supervisor, or entry-level employees.
Each buyer persona has very real pain points that SaaS products can solve. So the angle and messaging of your digital marketing materials should vary depending on the target buyer persona.
For example, the CEO buyer persona’s main value could be a good ROI. The supervisor might be looking for easier team management and analytics tools. While the end-users just want to do their jobs faster.
Knowing your target buyer persona’s specific pain point will help you develop digital marketing efforts that are engaging and relevant to them.
Strategy #2: Know Your Value Proposition
The value proposition is the main idea about your SaaS solution that you want to communicate with your target market. It’s your proposed reason why people should choose your product over your competitors.
Since there are SaaS products that do similar things, you need to make yourself stand out. You have to convince people that your SaaS solution is the best option for them.
And this all starts with knowing what your SaaS product can offer and why people should be interested in it.
Your SaaS product’s value proposition has three components: the problem, the solution, and how you do it differently than others.
It tells customers about their needs and how you will best fulfill that need through your SaaS product.
For example, let’s say that you’re developing a SaaS application for invoicing. That SaaS app would solve problems like long-awaited automation of business processes or accounting headaches. The company could also use it to improve their productivity by making it easier to invoice.
However, you can’t just plainly tell people that you have a SaaS solution for invoicing. That’s not specific enough. It’s not interesting enough. And it doesn’t make you stand out against your competitors.
But if you say something like “Easily manage client invoices in one place.” It starts getting very engaging right there.
Strategy #3: Know Your Competitors
One of the challenges of the rapidly increasing SaaS market today is that it comes with increased competition as well.
You saw a need and created a SaaS solution to address that need. But there are multiple SaaS products out there that do the same thing.
So you’ll need to know what competitors are out there and how your SaaS product stacks up against them. It will help you assess your own strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors.
What’s more, having a proper competitive analysis can even help you build your value proposition.
There are two things you can do to dig deeper into your competitors:
- Competitive analysis
- SEO competitor analysis
Competitive analysis is the process of identifying, analyzing, and understanding your SaaS startup’s main competitors.
You want to know who they are and what features you have in common. You want to know their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
Knowing your SaaS product’s competition will help you better understand what buyers are looking for. You’ll be able to develop SaaS solutions and marketing efforts that will address the needs of your SaaS market.
First, you can find out what your competitors are about. You can look into their mission statement and value proposition.
LinkedIn would be a great tool for this. You can also see the composition of their employees. That would give you an idea of what they value as a company.
Do they focus on product development? On sales? On digital marketing? They most likely put the majority of their manpower on the departments that they value most.
You can also check out their social media marketing efforts. How active are they in social media? How are their Facebook ads performing?
You can actually monitor your competitors’ social media ads through the Facebook Ads Library.
What’s also useful in the competitive analysis is the SWOT data on them. What are their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
Finally, you should be able to compare all this data with your own. Draft a comparison table if you have to. This will help you clearly see how your SaaS startup stacks against your competitors.
SEO Competitor Analysis
Another way to know your competitors is the SEO competitor analysis. It’s more based on keyword research than SaaS company research.
Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush would come in handy here. You can look at your competitors’ search engine rankings for keywords related to SaaS products. It shows you what opportunities they are trying to target.
If their content pages get a lot of traffic, it would also give you an idea of what topics are currently trending within your target market.
Then, you’ll want to see how they would answer those questions or fulfill that need in the best way possible. That would tell you what they prioritize in their content marketing strategy.
Strategy #4: Establish Product-Market Fit
Product-market fit is the match between a SaaS product and its users’ needs. It’s how well your SaaS solution is solving your customer’s problems.
It’s called “fit” because you want the SaaS product to “fit” with buyers’ wants and needs, not just your company’s vision.
First, you need to understand what SaaS buyers are looking for. You can do that by studying their content consumption habits online.
And I’m not just talking about their general patterns of behavior on social media or on the web. You also need to look into their interests in SaaS topics. What keywords are they searching for?
Another way you can learn their needs is to read your competitors’ user reviews.
What do their users appreciate about those products? What do they find lacking? What features do they wish the product had?
That would be a very helpful insight into your potential customer’s pain points.
Once you understand what is in demand in your target market, you can tailor-fit your product’s features and future updates to those needs.
That way, SaaS buyers would be more inclined to try out your SaaS product.
Strategy #5: Use The Best Pricing Model And Strategy For Your Product
Pricing SaaS products can already be tricky in itself. You also have to note that SaaS buyers are conscious of the value they get for their money.
That’s why you need to consider these two things when figuring out a pricing structure for your SaaS product.
- Pricing model
- Pricing strategy
Your pricing model is the basis of your rates.
A few examples of pricing models include per-user pricing, credit-based pricing, and usage-based pricing.
You need to know which pricing model SaaS buyers currently prefer. You can find that out by looking into what SaaS products are already in the market.
For B2C, the most popular pricing model is the freemium model. That’s simply because the word “free” is very attractive to a lot of consumers.
But still, a freemium model can still work well for B2B marketing, especially if you’re targeting an end-user buyer persona.
For B2B, a tiered pricing model is usually the way to go. Since you have multiple buyer personas, you need to have a plan that matches the needs of each of those personas.
Still, the best pricing model depends on how your SaaS solution works. For example, a VoIP solution could be priced based on the duration of calls their users make. Or a lead generation software could charge its users per qualified lead.
You can get creative with your pricing model. You can mix and match them. In fact, some of the most effective pricing structures are hybrids of tiered and credit-based pricing models.
Just don’t make it too complicated for your potential customers to understand. You don’t want to end up confusing them, do you?
Your pricing strategy determines how you set the price range for your SaaS product.
One way to do it is competitor-based pricing. You look at how much your competitors are charging for similar features and take off from there.
It could make sense. But only if your product is almost exactly similar to their products. If their users are willing to pay that much for their product, they should also be willing to pay that much for yours.
But here’s the thing. It won’t exactly be your pricing strategy, it would be their pricing strategy. You’re just copying it.
That’s why a value-based pricing strategy is the most recommended for a SaaS business.
Value-based pricing puts a lot of research on what users are willing to pay for your product. It involves a lot of surveys and talking to people.
But you will come up with a price range that matches the value of your product. What’s more, you can be confident that your potential customers are inclined to pay for it.
Strategy #6: Deliver Value As Fast As You Can
Making your potential customer see the value of your product is the key to winning them over. You need to take them to the “A-ha!” moment where they personally experience the benefit of using your SaaS product.
But how do you do that just by marketing? How can your SaaS product provide value for your users even before they pay you anything?
The answer? Freemium model and free trials.
A lot of SaaS businesses actually offer free plans and trials just for the sole purpose of delivering value. It’s one of the most effective SaaS marketing strategies today.
But what you need to remember here is to deliver value as fast as you can, with as few clicks as possible.
If it takes too long for users to actually benefit from your SaaS product, they might opt not to buy it. That’s why you should not skimp out on the free trials and free plans.
For free plans, provide them with enough tools to actually make a difference in their business. For free trials, the trial period should be more than enough to deliver value to them. At the same time, you need to figure out how to get free users to convert from your free plan into a paid subscription.
If you’re offering a free trial, you can design a smooth transition when the trial expires so that it’s easier to convert.
However, if you have a freemium, it can be tricky. Yes, you need to provide value immediately. But if you give away all of your features, you might not be able to sell a paid subscription.
To get around that, you can limit the number of users on your free plan or give them access to only a few SaaS features.
Let’s look at Zoom, for example. It definitely provides value with its free plan. Forty minutes per meeting for up to 100 participants already gives great value. But if you need to exceed those limits, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Strategy #7: Have A Solid Content Marketing Plan
Content marketing is one of the most potent SaaS marketing strategies today. Especially for B2B solutions, most people in your target market are hungry for information.
They want to learn how to improve their businesses. They want to maximize their SaaS tools.
You, as a SaaS company, need to be there to provide that information for them. If they see you as a topical authority in your niche, they will trust your brand. Consequently, high trust in your brand will result in more sales.
A few types of content you can produce include:
- YouTube videos
Blogging is one of the most popular platforms for content marketing.
And I don’t mean those 700-word articles.
SaaS products and concepts can be so complex that you would need 2000 to 4000 words to explain them in detail.
Topics could also be anything that would catch potential customers’ attention. You write about anything relevant in your niche.
For example, let’s say you have marketing automation software. You can write blogs on how to get viral, how AI is transforming businesses today, or just general marketing strategies.
But don’t be in a hurry to generate lots of blogs at the expense of their quality. Remember that having topical authority in your niche means that your content is reliable and engaging.
Podcasts can also be a potent SaaS content marketing tool.
Like in blogs, you can talk about anything that can be useful to your users. You can talk about business tools, strategies, and any news relevant to your SaaS niche.
Even better, you can interview industry experts and influencers in your field. That way, potential customers will trust you even more because of your connections with these experts.
Video is one of the most engaging media for content marketing nowadays. And where do most people look for video content? YouTube.
You can build your own YouTube channel where you can upload videos with different types of content.
Like with blogs and podcasts, you can simply create videos about different concepts related to your niche. You can also upload explainers and tutorials on your SaaS solution.
Having engaging and information-rich content can be a potent tool in building your brand awareness and topical authority. Not to mention the possibility of monetizing your videos once you reach enough followers.
What’s more, you can mix your videos with your blogs. Sure, you can make your blog post more engaging with pictures and infographics. But embedding your videos would give them a bit more “oomph”.
Strategy #8: Fractional Marketing
Fractional marketing is the practice of outsourcing some marketing roles to part-time professionals.
I’m not just talking about freelance content writers and video editors. In fractional marketing, you can even hire an experienced chief marketing officer (CMO).
As a SaaS startup, you need to catch up with your big competitors in order to have a considerable share of the market. However, you probably don’t have the resources to hire a full-fledged, in-house marketing team to match theirs.
That’s why fractional marketing would be a strategic move for SaaS startups. It enables you to hire top-notch marketing experts on a part-time basis.
It can be flexible too. It can range from ad-hoc consultancy services to full-on management of your marketing campaign.
Imagine hiring a veteran CMO only per project or per hour. If you only need them for consulting, you can opt to pay them only for the hours you talk to them. That would be a huge advantage in terms of cost.
Sure, fractional marketing still has its disadvantages. For one, it lacks the commitment of a full-time in-house marketing team. Or there could be a lack of cohesion and communication between your in-house employees and fractional marketers.
Still, the pros could outweigh these cons. After all, you can have experienced and world-class marketing professionals at only a fraction of the cost. This is definitely a good deal, especially for SaaS startups.
Strategy #9: Affiliate Marketing
Speaking of outsourcing your marketing efforts, you can also take advantage of affiliate marketing.
This strategy entails getting other individuals and companies to promote your SaaS products and services for a commission.
Affiliate marketers play an important role in SaaS startups. They can help you reach your potential customers by promoting your SaaS solution to their audiences.
For example, you can get bloggers and influencers to write articles about your SaaS product. Or you can get video producers to create videos about it as well.
Naturally, affiliate marketers would earn commissions if their referrals purchased your SaaS tool after reading or watching those content pieces.
One of the great things about affiliate marketing is this commission-based payment structure. You pay only when you get paid.
That means it’s a sustainable and scalable marketing strategy. Even if your business grows, you can always afford to run and benefit from an affiliate program.
Strategy #10: Focus On Customer Retention
Last but not least, you should prioritize retaining your existing customers.
In SaaS businesses, a lot of money is spent on acquiring new customers. This amount is usually computed as the customer acquisition cost (CAC).
And while SaaS startups need to spend for this purpose, they should always aim to retain current customers too.
Customer retention helps SaaS startups reduce costs and maximize their profits. It also gives them time to build brand loyalty with their buyers.
There are lots of ways SaaS startups can focus on customer retention.
One way is by providing excellent customer success services to your clients even after the actual purchase. You should have a dedicated support team at all times who can address all your customers’ needs.
Another way is by offering discounts and other promotions just to keep your existing customers happy and engaged. You can offer free temporary upgrades too, for a chance to upsell your product.
Launching A Successful SaaS Startup
Nowadays, the SaaS market can truly be a dog-eat-dog world. SaaS startups need to be aggressive in order to gain an edge over their competitors.
It’s not enough for you just to have a SaaS solution that your customers can use. You need to promote and sell this SaaS tool if you want it to gain popularity and acceptance among buyers.
That’s why SaaS startups should invest in the right marketing strategies.
For more guides on SaaS marketing, visit our SaaS marketing blog here.